Archive for March, 2011



I consider myself lucky for being exposed to fascinating diversities that are so apparent in my current work place and its surroundings.  Penang isn’t only a foodie’s paradise but a multi-racial haven where various cultures and religions breathe and thrive harmoniously.

In a community where Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (and Christianity) mix peacefully, I found myself having profound respect for these religions. Despite my minimal knowledge about them, my fancy was heightened gradually with  anything that symbolizes love, peace and humility.

Just when I brought my wife+kid and our visiting friend to 2 Buddhist temples in the heart of Penang Island, I never expected that something would still be interesting considering that it was already my 3rd time to be there last week, nonetheless, it felt like every visit offers a remarkable charm.

Inside the temple, documenting the hand gestures of images of Buddha, the ones they called Mudras happened spontaneously…

Abhaya Mudra – Imparting Fearlessness, Reassurance, Protection, Blessing.

Dhyana Mudra.  This mudra signifies meditation
Varada Mudra – Symbolizing Charity…
Vitarka Mudra – Intellectual Argument, Debate, Appeasement, Teaching, Giving Instruction, Reason…
Dharmachakra Mudra. Teaching, Preaching, Turning the Wheel of Dharma…
And the other hand signs… 

that despite unlabeled, obviously represent simplicity, wisdom, enlightenment, truth and other values of Buddhism…

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -Buddha.

On the lighter side of things, my son, Gabby was so natural as he tried to absorb the atmosphere inside the temple…
*Any insights and additional inputs on Mudras and Buddhism in general, are highly appreciated.”


It’s an understatement to state that Penang offers a variety of food choices because food options in this part of Malaysia is limitless! It’s as diverse as its people (Malay, Indian and Chinese). However, since taste is subjective, one may be easily satisfied with affordable and delicious dim sum from food stalls in the streets, popularly known as hawkers, while others would not be pleased to eat some dishes if tolerance to spice can’t be stretched. Nonetheless, there’s a plate in Penang for every palate.

When Rob, one of our good friends of almost 2 decades decided to go to 3 key cities of Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Kuala Lumpur) for his 1-whole-week of lone backpacking trip, I thought of playing the best tour guide to him but I guess my 7-month-stay here in Penang isn’t enough to meet the part (The story deserves another post). :(  Part of the plan (if there was any, haha!) was to showcase to him the flavors of this island (read : food trip!) I reminded him just before he went here that it’s a must for first-time-tourist to taste the place’s staple food; and one of Penang’s favorites is Nasi Lemak

That was my plate. I didn’t know that Rob developed allergy toward chicken. Chicken is a part of that dish served with roasted peanuts, cucumber slices, cup of rice traditionally cooked in coconut cream, hard boiled egg, dried anchovies, and sambal, yes its hot and spicy sauce. Nasi Lemak simply means fatty rice; it needs no further explation with its ingredients. A colleague once said that this Malaysian dish can last you throughout the day.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.  ~John Gunther

Some people categorize food into meal times. We don’t. My family and closest friends can eat almost anything regardless if it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. I call it pure talent. haha! :D We are one with those people who like breakfast-all-day menus. Here are some breakfast foods for some which we had for our early light dinner…

Who doesn’t like buttered toasts?

We brought our best friend to one of my favorite simple food places along Jalan Burma (Burma Road) in Georgetown. It’s called Santorini…

Santorini’s Chinese-owned restaurant without intimidating ambiance. I cannot recall a visit without me ordering this dish previously known as Seafood Rice Combo but now labeled on their menu as Butterine Prawns and Mantis Rice…It’s sufficient to ease out all worries and fatigue from a day’s work. In other words, it’s one of my comfort foods. Sarap!

My wife, Tina opted to have Sambal Rice… tolerable spiciness served with prawns and herbs.

Our 6-year-old kiddie, Gabby went British in ordering Fish and Chips…

While Rob’s first meal in Penang wasn’t a local dish but nonetheless looks so pescetarian to me (he is, actually). He finished this veggie-pasta plate; it’s either it was that good or his trip from Kota Kinabalu to Penang was tiring for him.

We washed everything down with refreshingly good iced teas of berries and lemon flavors.

Then the next morning, we left the hotel in the island at 6AM and took our breakfast at a roofed-hawker-place somewhere 30-min from Georgetown.

Warm broth from this prawn noodle dish in hot claypot can be soothing for an empty tummy.

Rob and Gabby had bowls of Fish Congee and a bun of kaya…

I wanted to eat Char Koay Teow that morning but the vendor said that ingredients were still yet to be sourced from a nearby public market, so I ended up having another noodle dish with taste similar to CKT…

If food choices are as wide as the Penang blue sky, so do drinks…Tina and I shared in Iced Coffee, Gabby had Iced Milo and Rob tried Wheat grass which tasted like sago’t gulaman to me; sarap pamatid-uhaw!

Lunch last Thursday was superb; in fact I lost superlatives to describe its goodness. Rob treated us to this buffet place in Plaza Gurney called Seoul Garden. It’s like Tong Yang and Yakimix in Manila or close to the authentic yakiniku in Don K! in Tokyo

You get to grill your prawns, beef, fish and chicken strips while boiling your preferred soup; we chose Abalone broth as our soup base.

The spread in Seoul Garden is more than what your appetite can handle…

We also feasted at salads, dim sums, fried chicken, potatoes, fried spring rolls and more…

And the world is always a happier place to live in because of ice cream, is it not?

It’s one of the best vanilla ice cream I’ve tasted; it’s creamy vanilla enriched with chocolate sprinkles; sinfully delicious! They’ve other flavors like raspberry, mango, corn even durian! 

Great tasting food + company of loved ones = what more can you ask for?

It was a day and half of food tripping with my family and our best friend who paid us a visit here in Penang. We might not have brought him to the most authentic food places like hawkers at Gurney Drive and food stalls in Lebuh Chulia and other parts of Georgetown but I am betting my last ringgit that he definitely enjoyed his hours with us. :)

Until my family’s next gastronomic adventure! :)




Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous. Dis bonjour à Ma’am Santos :)

Que Dieu vous bénisse toujours :)

(I’m so happy for you. Say hello to Ma’am Santos :) May God bless you always) -This was one of the several comments I’ve received on facebook after I’ve posted a photo of my son and wife’s arrival in Penang International Airport last Saturday. Those words came from my wife’s student, Myeen, who’s born in Belgium and raised in France.  Pinas but spent her 10 years in Belgium and had traveled France and some countries in Europe. I always have my widest smile every time she posts comments on French; such a beautiful language I wish I could learn. Won’t you be happy if others are happy for you and your family as well?

20 March 2011, Sunday : On board the ferry that takes us to and from Butterworth to Penang Island; ferry takes approx 12 minute ride; kinda relaxing for me unless there's inevitable little isolated hassles. (tingnan nyo si ate, nakatingin sa mag-ina ko, hehe!)

And so I became the happiest man alive on the day I finally brought my family to Penang. They’ll be staying here with me until God knows when.They arrived safely from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific (4-hour-flight) then had another flight from KL to Penang via Air Asia (about an hour-flight). I saw them coming out of Penang Airport at around 6:10PM last Saturday. That moment was surreal!

We’re all thankful to the Lord for despite the vertigo episodes that Tina was having during their entire flight until they reached Penang (imagine, she fainted down to her knees in front of the immigration officer at Kuala Lumpur-LCCT airport) plus the fact that she was only one to carry all the 37 kg of check-in luggages and 13 kg of handful of cabin-bags, not to forget that the rains (only) poured from heavens when we’re already in the cab enroute to our condo, they arrived safe and sound. God was indeed good all the time!

Tina wanted to hear mass the next day but I knew there’s no scheduled English mass last Sunday at the parish where I frequent so we postponed it the following weekend.

We hopped onto Rapid Penang bus, hit the roads to the jetty, transferred to the ferry then took bus again to the Island. (Cest la vie for we’re still living in Penang mainland, but before August hopefully, we get to transfer to a new place in the Island itself).

I took them to Queensbay Mall, one of my favorite malls in Penang Island where I usually spend my days off inside its coffee shops and cinemas. Tina and Gabby only had one chance to go to Queensbay during their 2-week-break here last December.

At the Queens food court, we feasted on Beef Fried Rice, Yee Mee noodle dish, peanut and lotus balls (aka buchi) and Too Foo Far in brown sugar, of in Pinas we call it, taho less tapioca or sago. Sarap kumain pagkasalo pamilya!

Then we watched the movie that had Johnny Depp’s voice, Rango…

Rango : "No man can walk out on his own story."

It wasn’t difficult to like Rango for the three of us are all followers of most Johnny Depp’s kiddie-movies. The fantastic visuals and spectacular scenes plus the splendid voices rendered to the animated cast made the movie truly entertaining. Rango, like most contemporary cartoons is filled with matured themes and quotes that kids might find to early to absorb. Like how many kids can easily grasp the importance of a hero finding his true self? Nonetheless, I saw Gabby smiled and laughed at few chase scenes and that was enough for me as I start to fill in those days that we’re away from each other.

The following day after my work hours, we visited few of our colleague-friends’ home-away-from-home.

Gabby, striking his seriously wacky pose at the hallway of the condo we visited.

It’s so comforting that my fellow MD lecturers welcomed my family to their living rooms (actually, i personally requested if we can peek in at their condos for Tina to have an idea of how Pulau Pinang urban living looks like). You don’t have idea how hard it is to live as an expat with barely friends and relatives you have lived with since you existed until you become one.

Chance led me to discover the song that’s so apt for our present family status.

I honestly don’t know who Bruno Mars is and am completely clueless with his music until I stumbled upon this wonderful song that speaks my thoughts exactly. Please do yourself a favor, click the video and sing to your heart’s delight! Let me know of what you think.

Tina and I are aware that we took the big leap as we begin to live and thrive here in Penang that’s absolutely far from our own comfort zones. We’re taking one day at a time; hopefully in God’s will, we may be able to become happier, healthier as we begin our new life here.

What’s most important now is we’re one family again.

God bless all our loved ones!




Another chapter in our family life will unfold today.

My life in Penang will be happier for this late afternoon, my wife, Tina and our kid, Gabby will arrive from Manila via Kuala Lumpur. They’ll be staying here with me on dependent visa until (my work visa expires) God wants us to be here.

I certainly know how difficult it is for my wife to leave Manila for she will be missing two valuables in her life –

-her Ate who’s a doctor and a medical educator too (happens to be my classmate-friend back in Med school) and is the only immediate family she got in Pinas; the rest of my in-laws are based in the US and

-her job as a clinical instructor and a skills laboratory lecturer for Nursing college students in which Tina have been passionate about for some years (I think she didn’t resigned but only filed an indefinite leave of absence).

My wife shall begin to work here in Penang as an Operating Room Nurse once her license from MNC is issued. While waiting, she’ll continue to be the best personal and private teacher to Gabby as we prepare him for schooling here (read : we need to save first for Gabby’s private foreign school because its cost is so steep although the cost of living isn’t).

I know that with my family’s presence, I’ll be more inspired to wake up every 5 o’clock in the morning to hit the roads to work.

Another reason of my excitement is the fact that someone close to my family will pay a  visit next week.

I already filed a replacement leave in our HR office because by mid next week, one of my best buddies of 18 years and counting, Rob of Sensory Replays  will have his lone backbacking trip for a week in Malaysia. He’ll start his leisure tour in Kota Kinabalu on Monday, then we’ll fetch him at the airport on Wednesday and will serve as his tour guide here in Penang until the next day before he leaves for Kuala Lumpur on Friday.  Rob is one of Gabby’s dutiful godparents so we expect pasalubong from him of course. haha! :D

It’s a whole new world for my family; a new life to begin. I am certain that there are reasons why the good Lord made all this possible. We cannot thank Him enough.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ll have to prepare to go to the island, kill few hours in the mall before fetching my family at the airport.  yeehaa! :D



“We, Filipinos are resilient enough with adversities; we can even smile despite the fact that the city has been indundated or houses have been covered with ash fall. We are just one bunch of happy people.”

I uttered these lines or so the other day to one of our senior colleagues who heads the Medical department and hails from Pakistan when she sat with me and another friend-colleague in our university canteen while having our mid-morning snack and talked about the nature’s wrath in Japan recently. My Pinoy friend even told her that Filipinos’ smiles are even wider when there’s a TV camera flashed in front of them during typhoon and other calamity coverage. I could not agree more.

A poet once said, “A Filipino is pliant like a bamboo. Neither typhoons nor monsoons could break the Filipino spirit; like the bamboo, it sways and bends with nature’s relentless onslaughts, but it refuses to yield or die.”



Have you ever thought of spending at least an hour of your week with no worries even a bit; and just be child-like again? Thinking about it almost seemed like a luxury already but I did. I already did. :D

Five weeks ago, I decided to pursue my frustration want of learning to play the violin.  I know I am a beginner and I will not have to be defensive in stating that it’s never too late to learn anything because it’s damn true. If you must know, every hour of my theoretical and practical violin sessions with my 21-year-old (read : I’ll be turning 35 on September) Chinese teacher, who has been a violinist and a pianist for 5 years and counting and a very patient and passionate at her work (she does other jobs too), I never think of any worries and do nothing but enjoy the moment. It’s always fun to be child-like again!

I always look forward to my Wednesday dates with Amanda (my violin). Browsing and reading music scores from these kiddie-beginner’s books accompanied by CD, however difficult (to coordinate my hand with my eyes) is always fun for I like what I’m doing . Aren’t they cute? haha! :P

It’s hard to learn violin when you don’t have any background in playing the piano, worse, in reading the notes. But there’s nothing difficult for someone who perseveres!

haha! :D

FYI, I’m done with more or less, 10 practice songs with bowing and open hand and just started learning to play the violin with the songs using 1 finger (After 10 or more songs, then we’ll proceed with 2nd finger, 3rd finger and lastly the 4th with variations on notes of course).

I also dared myself to learn a bit of taking photos (some called it photography) last month and began to look at everything as a photo-opportunity. :D  Everything is almost picturesque with Alfonso (my Nikon D7000).

One of my senior colleagues, who happens to know photography since I’m 2 years old, have been generous in sharing some of his tips and whatnot about the hobby. He advised me and another fellow to buy and read some photography books and magazines because, according to him, it is only through it and by practice that we will learn. I couldn’t agree more.

One afternoon at Popular Bookstore in George Town, Penang, he suggested a book which I bought the next day. It’s by 2 Asian authors with title, A Billion Shots.

The book is beautiful. The photos are fantastic. I am considering sharing it to my few readers, by buying a new one and have it as one of the prizes to my upcoming blog anniversary contest (This humble site will turn 4 on May 8 and the small-time-blogger-from-Penang, ehem, that’s me! hehe, is thinking of throwing another contest for his tribe or cult(?) (that’s you!) next month).

Other than those books, I also took the word from my senior colleague to buy affordable photo-magazine that features D7000 and tricks on how to capture gorgeous pictures.

Time is all I need to browse and absorb them all.

What have you been busy browsing?

It’s fun to forget about work. forget about hassles. forget about monthly bills. forget about homesickness. forget about people who don’t value you. even for just an hour. The moment is priceless!


PS : I used to read few of Dan Brown books and would like to continue on more titles when i find time. I’d like to continue reading paperbacks soon… And you?



Honestly, I cannot get over the news about how Japan was inundated by that massive tsunami and jolted by that tremendous earthquake a couple of days ago.  I was ashamed of myself dwelling on my little personal and professional problems while people on the other side of the planet were fighting for survival against forces beyond their control.

I prayed and asked for forgiveness; asked for mercy for those deeply affected by the calamity. I immediately thought of my family who as of the moment, are miles away from me. I prayed for their safety and for the good Lord to continuously keep us in His divine care.

Perhaps, one of the reasons why I am deeply affected with what happened to Japan was because I was fortunate enough to experienced Tokyo last year. I have personally seen, heard, smelt, felt and tasted  Tokyo for 14 days!  It was indeed, remarkable 2 weeks of my life! Admittedly, I fell in love with the city and it’s so difficult to reconcile that its northern part was devastated by that natural tragedy.

It instantly came to mind that even the most progressive country has its own sufferings. And that nothing is spared when nature speaks its wrath.

I know Japanese people have been used to strong typhoons, frequent earthquakes and in history, even atomic bombings. How they managed to rise from all these adversities should inspire and motivate not only me but the rest of the globe.

I was hesitant to post something pleasant about how I love that city and that country with their culture and their food of course, but life has to move on. Thus, this entry.

Second to our very own local dishes back home, I love Japanese foods. As mentioned, I am lucky to have tasted authentic sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki and sukiyaki when I was in Tokyo. So everytime I see Japanese food stalls and restaurants wherever I go, I cannot help but crave for some bites. :D

About a couple of weeks ago, I went to one of the malls here in Penang that I frequent every weekend. And I did not resist the temptation of having Japanese for late lunch. Here was my set then…

Japan’s greatest contribution to gastronomic history : sushi!  

Other than sushi and sashimi, Yakult is the next best thing Japanese people introduced to the world!

This set meal came with soup+noodle bowl and a small cup of custard dessert as sweet ending!

Free small pitcher of iced cold green tea and drinking water to wash everything down.


I had that set meal from Sushi King in George Town, Penang…

Diners can directly get their sushi from the conveyor belt …

besides the set meal I had, I also opted to order ala carte. Sushi King’s Soft shelled crab temaki –delicious! :D

I ate this lunch set at the heart of Penang 2 weeks before that catastrophe happened in Japan.  At least, it reminds me of good memories I had from Tokyo; a breather from those actual photos of news online.

Japanese food. Japanese culture. Japanese innovation. Japanese people. Japanese way of life. These are the things I love about Japan. And so until after they rise on their feet from the devastation they had, they’ll be constantly in my prayers.  

So help us, God!


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TOKYO 2010



"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship." (Buddha)



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